Chief Justice Anin Yeboah in a group picture with members of the Judicial Press Corps.
The Chief Justice, Justice Anin Yeboah, has inaugurated the Judicial Press Corps with a call for the need to urgently address the issue of standards propriety in relation to court reporting.
According to him, the work of the Judiciary and the position it occupies within the constitutional architecture requires that information about the work of the Judiciary must be accurate and handled with the utmost care in order not to deceive the public.
“When information which is not true about a pending case is spread about the Judiciary, it undermines trust in our work and eats away at the very foundations of our Republic. We do not have, nor have any power, or option of interfering with media freedoms,” the Chief Justice stressed.
He added that “Ghana must and will remain a bastion of freedom. However, we must urgently address the issue of standards and priority in relation to court reporting else we leave ourselves vulnerable to misinformation that will mislead the citizenry”.
Justice Anin Yeboah however, expressed optimism about the inauguration of the Judicial Press Corps, a team of journalists with the training, skills and access that will enable them to properly relay relevant information about the courts and events to the public.
“Members of the Corps, I am happy to note, have received expert training and guidance from some very experienced Justices and officers of the court, to whom we are grateful. With such excellent training, I have no doubt at all that they are ready to perform and do so extremely well”, the Chief Justice noted.
The Chief Justice also used the occasion to caution journalists not to report on matters relating to pending matrimonial cases.
Justice Sir Dennis Adjei, a Justice of the Court of Appeal who launched a Handbook for Journalists reporting from the courts noted that the role of journalists is indispensable particularly in the Judicial Service where justice is dispensed to all manner of persons according law without barrier.
He said every profession has its language and the journalist who communicates to the populace about events of the courts must be abreast with the language of the court and communicate in a language which is understood by the listeners without adulterating the meaning.
Justice Adjei added that the handbook is meant to build the capacity of journalists who were trained by the Judicial Training Institute to understand the court structure in Ghana, the language of the courts, expectations of journalists who report from the courts and other acts which amount to contempt in order that they do not fall foul of it.
President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Affail Monney lauded the official inauguration of the Judicial Press Corps and hoped that it would minimize the attacks on journalists at courts in the course of their works, adding that “the minimalist response we expect is to intensify security at the courts to stop such attacks and punish perpetrators”.
Chairman of the National Media Commission, Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo, on his part expressed worry about misleading reports from the court which has the potential of causing trouble, stressing the need for such occurrences to stop.
He said there have been many times that journalists have been embarrassed because they did not dedicated themselves sufficiently to the rudiments of the beats they have been assigned to thereby presenting misleading stories to the public.
Wilberforce Asare, a representative of the Judicial Press Corps thanked the Chief Justice and all the individuals who ensured the Press Corps was given the needed recognition and promised that the press corps is committed to the course of the Judiciary and adjudication of justice in Ghana, adding that they are ready to bring to the knowledge of Ghanaian all that is happening in the courts.
The initial twenty-seven (27) member Judicial Press Corps is made of Wilberforce Asare, Asaase Radio; Joyce Danso, Ghana News Agency (GNA); Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson, Daily Graphic; Justice Agbenorsi, Daily Graphic; Gibril Abdul Razak, Daily Guide; Barbara Abena Kumah, GTV; Yvonne Asare Offei, GBC Radio; Naomi Komeh, GBC Radio; Selorm Amenyah, TV3; Malik Sullemana, Ghanaian Times; Castro Zanzina-Tong, Ghanaian Times; Fred Tettey Djarbanor, Citi TV/FM; Sixtus Dong Ullo, Citi TV/FM and Anku Morkporkpor, Ghana News Agency (GNA).
The rest are Ama Brako Ampofo, Angel TV/FM; Murtala K. Inusah, GHOne TV/Starr FM; Gifty Amofa, Ghana News Agency (GNA); Joseph Ackah-Blay, Joy FM/Joy News; Kwaku Asante, Joy FM/Joy News; Elvis Andoh, Metro TV; Bernice Bessey, The Chronicle; Seth Kwame Boateng, Multimedia; Bernard Ato Arthur, UTV/Peace FM; Daakyehene Ofosu Agyeman, Power FM/XYZ TV; Jeffery Attipoe, TV3; Mary Anane-Amponsah, Daily Graphic and Amos Kwofie, Adom TV / FM.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak